My other online home Heroes & Heartbreakers has snagged an exclusive release from Donna Grant. The novella, called Dark Craving, will go up in three parts on July 23, 24 and 25. Here’s the official blurb:
Fueled by ancient magic—and enflamed by human desire—the Dragon King known as Hal can transform himself at will into one of the legendary winged creatures he is sworn to protect. But one thing he can never do is fall in love…with a mortal woman.
Searching for her brother in Scotland—and succumbing to the freezing cold—Cassie Hunter awakens to find herself in the arms of a magnificent Highland warrior. Across his chest is the tattoo of a fiery dragon. And in his heart is a burning passion that, once unleashed, will consume them both…body and soul.
This is a story of destiny and desire, magic and mystery, warriors and lovers. These are the forbidden cravings of the Dark Kings.
As I have the inside scoop, I have a sneak preview of a bit of the sexy tale right here on VBC today. Get a taste of Dark Craving and its delectable hero below, and bookmark the novella page at Heroes & Heartbreakers for next Monday.
Who was Hal, and why was he stocking her kitchen?
Alice’s smile grew. “Follow the chopping, and get ready for an eyeful. I’ve been watching him all morning.”
Cassie didn’t have time for another question before Alice was gone. With nothing else to do, she threw back the covers and then stopped as she noticed her bare legs. Had this Hal taken off her jeans?
She gingerly stood and made her way to the flight of stairs where the bedrooms turned out to be. It didn’t take her long to find where her one lone piece of luggage had been taken.
After she donned a pair of sweatpants and socks and combed out her hair, Cassie walked back down the stairs and did as Alice suggested—followed the chopping.
She rounded a corner and found herself peering out a dining room that was all glass. It looked more like a sunroom than a dining room, and the views of the mountains were staggering.
Or at least they might be if she could tear her eyes away from Hal.
He stood well over six feet, his long black hair pulled back in a queue at his neck while sweat rolled down his face. Thick black brows slashed over his eyes, eyes she wished she knew the color of.
His face was all angles and rugged handsomeness. A dusty coating of whiskers covered his square jaw and chin, but even the whiskers didn’t hide the slight indent in his chin.
He had a wide forehead and a long straight nose. And his lips . . . Cassie had trouble swallowing as she caught sight of his mouth. No man should have lips so wide and thin, so damned seductive.
A jacket and sweater were discarded on the back of a wooden chair, leaving Hal in nothing but a skintight white tee that showed every wonderful muscle.
With each move, each swing of the axe, she watched the play of muscles in his back and arms. The blade of the axe cut through the wood as easily as a hot knife through butter. Cassie was mesmerized watching him.
It wasn’t just his amazing body or his good looks, there was something different about him that Cassie had never seen in a man. Something that would set him apart in a crowd of thousands.
As if he realized he was being watched, Hal halted just as he was about to bring the axe down again and turned his head. Their gazes locked, and Cassie felt all the air rush from her lungs.
For several moments they simply stared at one another before he sent her a grin and went back to chopping. It didn’t seem right to continue staring at him, so Cassie turned away and hurried into the kitchen only to discover it was nearly noon.
“Duke, I’ve slept the entire morning away,” she said in alarm.
With everything Hal had done, the least she could do was fix him lunch. Cassie grabbed her coat from a hook near the door and shrugged it on as she stuffed her feet into her boots.
She walked outside and huddled into the jacket as the brisk January wind hit her full in the face. Duke raced past her and bounded around Hal.
He laughed and rubbed Duke before he tossed the blade into a stump as if weighed nothing and turned to her.
Being this close to him did something to Cassie. Maybe it was because she was hungry and still exhausted from the day before, but it was as if she couldn’t get her balance, as if the world kept tilting beneath her feet.
“I hear I owe you my thanks,” she said.
His mouth twisted in a half smile. “I did what anyone would.”
She had never thought the Scottish brogue sounded appealing until that moment. His deep, almost gravelly voice made goose bumps race over her body. He could read from an accounting book and she’d listen to him. Avidly.
“I didn’t know there was a code, and I couldn’t get a hold of Dan.”
“He gave it to us a few years ago in case there was ever an emergency.”
Cassie chuckled. “Thank God he did.”
“Cassie,” she said, amazed at how breathless she sounded.
Just from being this close to him. Was it his brogue, his eye-catching body, or was it something more that caused the world to fade to nothing around him?
Silence stretched between them. Cassie cleared her throat. “I apologize for sleeping away the morning. Yesterday was probably the worst day of my life.”
“Ah, you slept all of yesterday, lass. This is your second morning here.”
Cassie snorted, wondering if the frozen ground could open up and swallow her. “Of course it is.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear that the wind kept blowing into her face. “Thank you for having Alice bring the groceries. I can pay you for that.”
“I think I owe you my life. Let me fix you some lunch at least.”
He smiled once more, making her stomach flutter as if a thousand butterflies took flight inside her.
“That sounds good. Let me finish up here. Dan didna leave you with much firewood, and with the weather we’ll be having, you’re going to need it.”
“I’ll see you inside then.”
It wasn’t until Cassie was walking away that she remembered she was an awful cook. The only thing she could manage without burning it was a sandwich.
She hastily looked through the small pantry and fridge and found different deli meats and cheeses that she cut up and laid out along with bread and mayo and mustard. There was a bag of chips, which she also put on the table.
“They’re crisps,” she said after reading the label. “I need to remember that.”
A glance outside showed Duke was still with Hal, so Cassie rushed upstairs and jumped into the shower. The hot water felt wonderful, as did washing her hair and scrubbing her body. Then she quickly blow-dried her hair.
Unable to resist, she put a dab of blush on her cheeks before she put on a fresh pair of jeans and her thickest sweater over a long-sleeve shirt, which wasn’t nearly thick enough for the weather.
She walked downstairs rubbing her hands together from the chill of the house only to come up short when she found Hal standing in the kitchen munching on a slice of meat, Duke at his feet.
“If that’s the warmest sweater you have, lass, I fear you need to do some shopping.”
She pulled her gaze away from his amazing pale, pale blue eyes and glanced down at her soft pink sweater and nodded. “I know. I was hoping to make it through winter with what I had. I have a few more sweaters I was able to get before I came, but my luggage was lost.”
“Maybe they’ll find your luggage soon. Either way, you need more sweaters and a thicker coat as well as gloves and scarves. A hat would also be wise.”
Cassie sighed as the dollar signs continued to add up in her mind. “I’ll get on that as soon as I can. Thank you for letting me know.”
“Dan should have told you.”
Yes, he should have, but Cassie wasn’t going to rag on her brother to a complete stranger. Yet, this stranger seemed to know Dan pretty well.
“Dan is . . . well, he’s so busy with . . . things,” she finished lamely. “Are you hungry? I’m famished.”
“Then let’s eat.”
Cassie hadn’t found any coffee, and she was in desperate need of caffeine, so she grabbed a soda from the fridge and told Hal to help himself.
He spoke of the weather and the snow they were expecting to get over the next few days while they fixed their sandwiches and ate. Cassie found herself relaxed around him, even if she was more aware of him as a man.
A very virile, very handsome man.